For most professional ball players, a combined total of 154 points in three consecutive games may seem like an unattainable accomplishment. Damian Lillard is a different breed. After dropping 51, 61, and 42 points within the NBA Bubble this week, Lillard’s Portland Trail Blazers clinched the critical eighth seed in a formidable Western Conference. It didn’t come easy for the Blazers who held on in a down-to-the-wire 134-133 victory over Caris LeVert’s Brooklyn Nets. The win sealed the deal. This upcoming weekend, the Blazers will tip off against the Memphis Grizzlies (ninth seed) in a set of play-in matchups to see who will move on, to the 16-team playoff. Portland needs to win only one game, while Memphis has the tough task of having to beat Portland twice for a playoff berth.
With the Big Ten and Pac-12 pulling the plug on the fall football season, decisions for the other Power 5 Conferences are looming. MLB COVID-19 cases continue to increase, and the NFL season is just a few weeks away. The league is not holding any pre-season games this year.
What were the talkies up to this week? Here’s the social media scoop:
Dianna Russini (NFL Reporter and ESPN Host) – @diannaESPN
- It’s clear that Dianna Russini is ecstatic that the 2020-21 NFL campaign is approaching. She has high hopes for Tennessee Titans’ WR AJ Brown. Russini contends that Brown will have a “monster year.” On Wednesday, August 12th, Dianna posted a tweet relating to NFL training camps beginning Phase #2. Players and coaches are now allowed to be on the same field to practice with one another. She posted a picture of the New Orleans Saints back in action. On another note, Russini is pumped to host the EASports UFC Virtual Fight Card, live tonight, Friday, August 14th, at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
Hannah Storm (ESPN) – @HannahStormESPN
- From taking a look at Hannah Storm’s social media page, one can see that she has a good heart. Storm responded with an “Amen” to New England Patriots TE Benjamin Watson’s post which related to how everyone must grow and be resilient during these unprecedented times. In response to a SportsCenter tweet regarding Power 5 NCAAF Conferences for the fall, Hannah had this to say: “And…while we focus on football…so many other sports and academic dreams of young women and men, who have worked so hard, are also shattered this year. Feeling for our students who have had to adjust to so much change and uncertainty in these times.” Lastly, Hannah Storm is interested in how MLB will respond to a fight that broke out this past week between the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics. With all of the COVID-19 protocols that were broken during the scuffle, what will the consequences be?
Dick Vitale (ESPN Analyst) – @DickieV
- As always, Dick Vitale’s feed consisted of charitable initiatives and college sports. Vitale cares about the well-being of others. He wrote a book, “The Lost Season,” which takes a look at what sport aficionados missed by not having March Madness. All profits from the book will be donated to The V Foundation. Vitale had some high praise for Portland Trail Blazers’ superstar Damian Lillard. Dame had an astronomical 112 combined points in his two contests earlier this week (versus the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks). After another highlight reel performance on Thursday night with 42 against the Nets, Lillard successfully led his Blazers to the 8th seed in the West. Lastly, Vitale emphasized how the health and safety of players are still the number one priorities as leagues continue to compete.
Skip Bayless (FOX Sports) – @RealSkipBayless
- Like Vitale, Skip Bayless was in awe of Damian Lillard’s 61-point performance against the Dallas Mavericks: “I’ve never seen such a shooting performance, and they needed every last point. And he made all 18 of his free throws, and I respect that the most.” Bayless opined that Giannis Antetokounmpo should “be gone for at least one playoff game” for Giannis’ headbutt to Moe Wagner. Skip claimed that the projected back-to-back NBA MVP must “channel [his] frustration into performance, not retaliation.” Giannis was indeed suspended.
Colin Cowherd (Fox Sports) – @ColinCowherd
- Damian Lillard’s astonishing bubble performances was the story of the week! Cowherd put Lillard in a category of the greatest, saying that he is “perhaps the greatest scorer in the history of the league at his height.” Colin also believes that LeBron James’ Lakers should be concerned about the NBA Playoffs: “The Lakers are going to face either Devin Booker [of the Suns] or Damian Lillard [of the Blazers]. They don’t have anybody to guard these guys…Once again, LeBron James has to save everybody.” Colin Cowherd also shared his prediction on the upcoming college football season; he believes every conference will cancel the season throughout the next few weeks. Note: Phoenix has since been eliminated. Portland (8) will play the Memphis Grizzlies (9) this weekend in a set of play-in games. The Suns had an astonishing 8-0 NBA Bubble run but needed a Portland loss last night to get in. The Blazers though beat the Nets, 134-133.
“I get Ohio State Football fans being upset. The only real national title contender that lost its season. But if there is any consolation, any small comfort, here it is – every other conference will bail within a short period of time. They just don’t know it yet.”
Rachel Nichols (Host of ESPN’s The Jump) – @Rachel_Nichols
- Rachel Nichols was very active this week on Twitter. From Giannis Antetokounmpo’s suspension to Russell Westbrook’s injury status and from Damian Lillard’s highlight reel performances to Devin Booker leading his Phoenix Suns to the best record in the NBA Bubble, there was a great deal to discuss. Nichols is a visible host of NBA programming on ESPN. Fans continue to wonder: Which Western Conference team will claim the coveted final playoff spot? Who will be named king of the bubble? Which players will unfortunately be injured when it matters most?
Buster Olney (MLB Analyst) – @Buster_ESPN
- This week, Buster Olney was a source of information for MLB enthusiasts. Olney’s tweets related to numerous MLB developments – San Diego Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. remarkable start of eight home runs and a .333 batting average, the cancellation of the Pittsburgh Pirates – St. Louis Cardinals series due to an uptick in Cardinals’ COVID-19 cases, the Boston Red Sox pitchers shying away from throwing fastballs, and the Colorado Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon’s remarkable .500 batting average thus far. Many baseball fans still wonder how the remainder of the season will play out; will the season last a full 60-games without a bubble? Will St. Louis have what it takes to make up all of its missed games? Time will tell, and Olney will be one of the main media members enlightening fans on how the MLB season will go down.
Dan Patrick (Dan Patrick Show) – @dpshow
- Dan Patrick is a big fan of Damian Lillard and underscored how Lillard’s game and athletic prowess should be recognized and respected. Patrick also interviewed SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey on his show. Sankey insists that the student athletes will be safer on-campus playing football than if they lived off-campus with the season cancelled. ESPN CFB Gameday Analyst, Kirk Herbstreit, was also a guest on the Dan Patrick Show and insisted that the Big Ten and Pac-12 Conferences canceled their seasons to avoid the risk of harming the health and safety of players, coaches, and trainers. Which conference’s fans will be mourning the loss of their season next?